Age might not be an issue for you (yet), but with regard to your legal status it is one nevertheless. And it’s always good to know from which age you can legally buy a drink or get your next tattoo …
Some age limits are regulated on national level, but with Austria being a federal republic, a lot of youth rights are also set on a regional level.
This means that the definitions of age groups and what is allowed at which age are different in the different federal states. For example at the age of 15 your curfew to be out alone can be 11 pm or 1 am depending on where in Austria you are. Quite complicated, isn’t it?
Nevertheless, we try to give an overview:
At the age of 18 you are considered an adult. You are fully responsible for everything you do.
Drinking age: 16 years (wine and beer) / 18 years (hard liquor/spirits)
Regulated by regional law. This means that the laws concerning drinking alcohol differ a bit from federal state to federal state. For example in Burgenland, Lower Austria and Vienna the law doesn’t make a difference between “soft” and “hard” liquor, you just need to be 16 to buy any kind of booze.
Smoking age: 16 years
Regulated by regional law. But this time surprisingly it’s the same in all the federal states.
Piercing: 14 years
If you’re older than 14, your parents only have to agree in case the piercing is expected to take longer than 24 days to heal.
Tattoo: 16 / 18 years
You can get a tattoo at the age of 16 with your parents’ (written) approval, at 18 you can decide for yourself.
Buying stuff: 7 / 14 / 18 years
Without their parents’ OK 7- to 14-year-olds are only allowed to buy small things like a CD, a magazine, a book and the like.
From 14 to 18 you’re allowed to buy anything with your money (pocket money, own earnings) as long as you can still cover your necessaries. For bigger purchases like buying a moped you still need your parents’ permission.
Discounts: 26 years
Generally you get discounts with a valid (international) student card on public transport, in museums etc. Mostly the age limit for students’ discounts is 26.
Sex: 14 years
Both partners have to agree, of course.
Marriage age: 18 years
If you’re 16 and your partner is already 18 and you desperately want to marry him/her, you can make an application to court to get permission. From the moment you’re married you’re legally an adult, even if you’re still under 18!
Criminal Responsibility: 14 / 18 years
Young people under 14 are excluded from criminal liability and cannot be prosecuted for whatever they might have done. Instead other measures are taken e.g. by the youth welfare office. Offenders aged 14 to 18 are dealt with in a special juvenile justice system.
Working age: 15 years
You must be 15 years old and have finished compulsory schooling to be able to take up a “real” job.
Moving out without your parents’ consent: 18 years
If your parents agree, you can move out of your parents' home already at a younger age.
Voting age: 16 years
Austrian citizens can vote in public elections (local, regional, national and European) from the age of 16. Also EU citizens from the age of 16 with their main residence in Austria can vote, but only in local and European elections.
Note: If you are an Austrian citizen and want to run for an office, you have to be at least 18 years old. If you want to run for Austrian Federal president, you have to be at least 35 years old.
Regulated by regional laws.
define how long you can stay out e.g. at public events, in pubs and restaurants and the like. They are only guidelines, though. In the end it’s up to your parents to decide on what time you must be home, they can decide for you to be home earlier than the curfew recommends.
Places not to be
are places where young people are not allowed to go because it might harm their development. Such places are for example brothels, sex shops or gambling houses.
Staying at hotels, hostels and campsites
concerns regulations for staying there overnight without your parents (but with their consent).
Regulations about curfews, places not to be and staying at hotels, hostels and campsites are considerably different in the different parts of Austria. Moreover there’re many exceptions and special rules, so it’s really too complicated to frame a general guideline here.
Please contact the nearest youth information centre to find out more about these issues.
Photo: Geburtstag! © Ernst Rose / pixelio.de